Crime

Samuel Fussell, Fifth Suspect in Shmuel Silverberg Murder, Arrested

The booking photo of Samuel Fussell.
The booking photo of Samuel Fussell. Denver Police Department
Eighteen-year-old Samuel Fussell, the fifth suspect in a shocking August 17 crime spree that included the murder of seminary student Shmuel Silverberg, has been arrested.

Late on August 25, members of the Denver Police Department's fugitive unit took Fussell into custody at an undisclosed location in Greeley. The Greeley Police Department, joined by the FBI Safe Streets Task Force, assisted in the bust.

Already in custody were were Isaiah Freeman, 18; Seth LaRhode, 21; Aden Sides, 18; and Noah Loepp-Hall, 19. They're being held on suspicion of first-degree murder, first-degree assault, first-degree auto theft, felony menacing, first-degree burglary and burglary — and these charges don't represent their first brush with the legal system. The Denver Police Department has confirmed reports that the five suspects met each other while being held at the Lookout Mountain Youth Services facility, which has made headlines for all the wrong reasons over more than a decade.

While all the details about the suspects' previous offenses have not been made public, given their juvenile status at the time those crimes were committed, LaRhode was initially tried as an adult for shooting a friend in the head with a .357 Magnum back in 2017.

Both Freeman and Sides were previous subjects of missing-persons searches.

According to threads lingering online, including this one and this one, Freeman was fourteen and wearing a purple T-shirt on July 11, 2017, when he vanished after being seen walking along the Cherry Creek trail in Aurora, prompting an alert issued by the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office.

As for Sides, a poster continues to linger on the website of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children stating that he disappeared on July 19, 2020. His hometown is listed as Fort Collins.

LaRhode, meanwhile, is referenced in "Loveland Teen Accused of Shooting Friend in Longmont Sentenced as Juvenile," a March 23, 2018, article penned by Westword contributor John Bear, then writing for the Boulder Daily Camera. According to the piece, Longmont police had busted LaRhode the previous October after responding to a residence on the 100 block of Sunset Street, where Robert Miner, nineteen, had suffered a gunshot to the head. Miner and LaRhode, who was seventeen at the time, had been hanging out with several other people at the home of a friend's grandmother when Miner was injured. Afterward, LaRhode fled — and while initial accounts hinted at an accident, investigators subsequently determined that a crime had been committed.
click to enlarge
A portrait of the late Shmuel Silverberg.
Family photo via The Times of Israel
Initially, the Boulder County District Attorney's Office charged LaRhode as an adult in the shooting, but the adult case was dismissed, and he was sentenced to serve five years in the Division of Youth Services system.

Of the various DYS centers in the state, Lookout Mountain is easily the most notorious. In our June 19, 2019 post, "Inside the Shit Show at the Lookout Mountain Youth Services Center," a former teen inmate said that assaults and other violent disruptions were frequent at the facility, drugs and sex were far from uncommon, and the system always seemed on the brink of total collapse. And while Anders Jacobson, DYS's executive director, didn't directly confirm those claims, he acknowledged that serious problems at Lookout Mountain preceded the exit of its previous director and a slew of subsequent reforms.

More bad publicity struck the center in the months that followed: Former staffer Kristin Gonzalez was accused of helping an inmate with whom she had a romantic relationship escape and harboring him for more than a year before he was nabbed again; and another ex-employee, Joseph Forrest, pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography.

Other Lookout Mountain lowlights:

• A 2010 report about sexual abuse at juvenile facilities found that Lookout Mountain's stats were the worst in the state.

• Inmate Zachary Oliver allegedly racked up 243 offenses before escaping in August 2014 by beating an elderly guard with a bag of rocks.

• In May 2019, a riot at the center caused injuries to four inmates and ten workers.

• Days later, two teenage sex offenders escaped. They were later recaptured.

• The next month, violent offender Quinn Scaggs busted out of the center, where he'd earlier hurt an employee so severely that the man never returned to work. Scaggs was finally recaptured after he was said to have taken part in multiple pistol-whippings.

In addition to killing 18-year-old Silverberg, Fussell and company are believed to have participated in multiple carjackings at gunpoint and the shooting of a robbery victim who wound up in critical condition. These acts took place over a period of less than three hours on August 17.

Here are booking photos of the other four suspects.
click to enlarge
Clockwise from upper left: Noath Loepp-Hall, Aden Sides, Isaiah Freeman and Seth LaRhode.
Denver Police Department
The probable cause statements pertaining to the quintet remain sealed. However, the DPD confirms that Fussell is being held for investigation of first-degree murder, first- and second-degree burglary, aggravated robbery, aggravated motor vehicle theft, first-degree assault and felony menacing.

This post has been updated to include information about the arrest of Samuel Fussell.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts